Sloppy Thinking

While Captain Copyright has garnered significant attention over the past week, another group of educators have been targeted with a similar message.  CRIA's Graham Henderson recently published an opinion piece in the Spring 2006 issue of the Recorder, the Journal of the Ontario Music Educators' Association titled Music Students Face Uncertain Prospects Because of Illegal Downloading. I can't find an online version of the article, but I think it is does merit comment.  As the title suggests, CRIA's message for Canada's music educators is that many young people who dream of a career in music face severely limited prospects.  The article says that "this is neither for lack of talent nor an eager audience. Both of those ingredients are as strong or stronger than ever, thanks in good part to the excellent work of Canada's music educators.  The threat to music students' future success comes from rampant and uncurbed music file-swapping on the Internet."

This passage represents the high water mark of the article.
From there we learn that "the implications [of file sharing] are troubling, not only for those who dream a music career, but for those who believe in social values like honesty and respect for property, and for anyone hoping to make a living – in any field." [bold mine]  If that wasn't bad enough, the harm of downloading extends to ideas themselves – "plagiarism has become a significant problem in our schools. If unchecked, we will graduate sloppy thinkers, less capable of creating original products of the mind that will in turn keep us competitive internationally."

Music teachers, therefore, face a major societal obligation. The article concludes by stating that they "can and should play a central role in the solution. It is time that educators begin a dialogue with their students about the harm caused by illegal downloading, not only to secure a better future for those who dream of a career in music, but to improve the prospects of all young people and society at large."

Even Captain Copyright would be left speechless with this parody-like piece.


  1. Since sales of music are far higher than they were just 3 years ago (although sales of RIAA/CRIA are way, way, way down according to Henderson), I would think it is a great time for the young musicians to get in to the market.

    They can use the internet to make their talents known, before they sign up with his agency and hand over their copyrights to him and his legal team.

    Music teachers, therefore, should point out to their students that creating, recording, and distributing their music is far less expensive than ever before, while also reaching a much larger audience.

    They could also point out that Mr Henderson could use modern, effective, and cheap copy protection to ensure his music isn’t stolen by the 5 billion thieves and crooks in the world (as he sees it). Instead, he releases it openly and unprotected, and then complains about arbitrary theft.

    Its a lot like putting 6 billion dollars worth of your Picasso collection out in the street, coming back 3 years later only to find it is gone, and using that as proof that all students are thieves.

    Mr. Henderson sits on the fence. He should either protect his “valuable foreign top 40” music, or he should live with the sales he has, or simply get out of the business. But, he could stop crapping all over the very people he wants to sell to.

  2. teachers need to be diligent
    It’s disappointing to read that a small number of teachers are allowing poor quality content, like Captain Copyright and CRIA’s obviously warped views of reality into their classrooms. Teachers have an obligation to their students and to their professional integrity to properly vet any content that enters the classroom to ensure that students get a quality education.
    The school boards should be wary of any content that is offered for free and ensure that some form of quality control is performed before sanctioning it’s distribution. If the educators aren’t looking out for the quality of our children’s education, who is?
    I have been to a number of end of season school concerts recently and was impressed with the quality of music that is produced in the schools. While the orchestra and band performances were of high caliber, the soloists were amazing. These are students with great talents that have been nurtured by dedicated teachers. The music industry should be supporting these students, teachers and schools because the love and respect for music is created in this environment. I wonder how many instruments and teachers could have been sponsored with the money that the industry has spent on lawyers and lobbyists. It’s in the context of creating music, and the effort required to produce a great performance, that the message of artists rights can be fully understood by those students. It too bad that the adult “music experts” driving the industry have been blinded by their obsolete way of making money, and have forgotten what music is all about.

  3. Anonymous says:

    CRIA et al.
    The CRIAA is a made up group to lobby for the big four record companies, and can only be expected to do what is in the best interest of their stock holders. They ‘produce’ a ‘product’ to be ‘consumed’, and cannot be expected or even thought of doing what is the best interest of their ‘suppliers’ (that’s be the artists/creators) or ‘consumers’ (that’d be the rest of us) at all, and especially if it ment their stock holders would loose 1 penny.

    The big four and the CRIA are NOT in the business of looking after any country’s, regions, ethnic groups (etc.) heritage…they’re only concern is the bottom line. If the goverment wants to help support artists, and promote heritage they should make alternative methods of distribution viable (like say the internet) so artists don’t have to rely on the monoply that is the CRIA (alter the leters to fit whichever country you live in).